Pickles rejects proposals for east London concrete batching plant

Out-Law News | 18 Sep 2014 | 4:45 pm | 1 min. read

Secretary of state for communities and local government (SoS) Eric Pickles has dismissed an appeal against a decision by Tower Hamlets Council to refuse permission for the construction of a large concrete batching plant and storage facilities near the East India Dock Basin in east London.

Construction materials company Aggregate Industries UK and its subsidiary London Concrete had applied to the Council in December 2011 for approval of its detailed plans for a concrete batching plant, cement storage terminal, aggregate storage facilities, and outline plans for a 74 metre jetty and ship to shore conveyor, at Orchard Wharf on the river Thames.

In a decision letter dated 16 September (108-page / 643 KB PDF), Pickles agreed with the assessment of planning inspector David Nicholson, who had found that the proposals would have "a significant and harmful impact on the appearance and setting of the East India Dock Basin". Nicholson had concluded that the proposed buildings, which ranged up to 18 m in height and 100 m across, would be "massive and overbearing" and was critical of the apparent failure of the developers to consider "alternative layouts and arrangements of structures" that would be less harmful to their surroundings.

Pickles noted that the site was a "safeguarded wharf" under a policy in the London Plan. The Plan identifies Orchard Wharf as being capable of being made available for cargo handling, particularly for the handling of aggregates, which would constitute part of its use if permission was granted for the proposals. Pickles concluded that use of the wharf for concrete batching was also supported by the London Plan and gave "considerable weight" to the policy support for its reactivation.

However the SoS concluded that, despite the benefits of the proposed reactivation of the wharf, the particular design of the plans meant that "the amount of the harm that the scheme would cause is likely to be unnecessary”.

Refusing permission, Pickles said that while "there is no reason to believe that it would not be possible to devise a viable scheme that would overcome much of the environmental harm ... due to poor design and layout, the specific appeal proposals would not accord with the development plan".

The developers have the right to challenge Pickles' decision within six weeks of the decision date.